Everton have perhaps the most talented nucleus of young players on the continent plying their trade together at Goodison Park, as the likes of John Stones, Romelu Lukaku, Gerard Deulofeu and Ross Barkley continue to impress.
Still, the Toffees are not yet wholly convincing. A terribly leaky defence, including eight goals shipped at home in their last three games has consistently undermined their attacking prowess this term. Shot stopper Tim Howard seems to have suffered an alarming dip in form, while the continued absence of Phil Jagielka has not helped matters.
The manner in which the Merseyside club dealt with Chelsea’s pursuit of John Stones over the summer was encouraging, allowing Roberto Martinez and those behind the scenes to focus on buying players to aid their cause, rather than the onus being on who is about to leave.
On paper, the squad is more than good enough to challenge the top six. Lukaku is amongst the best strikers in the league, while Stones and Deulofeu continue to get better and better.
With some additions, Martinez can guide this young team into the top six.
How will he get there? Well signing any of these FIVE will help…
Tim Howard’s alarming dip in form has been well documented this season, as the American custodian has repeatedly flapped at a cross or failed to appropriately clear his lines. Though he has served the club with distinction in his nine years there, perhaps he is on the wane.
Cardiff City stopper David Marshall has been touted as his potential replacement, as the Scot earned many a plaudit during the Bluebirds’ brief stint in the Premier League. The 30-year old was named in the Sky Sports Team of the Year despite facing relegation, giving you an idea of just how admirably he performed.
He’s amassed a wealth of top level experience during his time with Celtic and the Scottish national team and remains an athletic stopper even into his 30s. Would be a more dependable option than Diego Lopez, cheaper than Jack Butland and no doubt an improvement on Howard in his current state.
Leeds youngster Sam Byram looks set to leave the Yorkshire Giants this month after rejecting a new deal with his boyhood club. The versatile 22-year old has been linked with a raft of Premier League teams as a result, after a series of impressive performances made him one of the hottest talents outside of the top tier.
Able to play anywhere up the right flank, Byram would be a natural fit at Goodison Park. A fine athlete, he would be both excellent cover as well as competition, for Seamus Coleman. With Tony Hibbert coming to the end of his career, Martinez should look to increase his options at right-back.
Young, hungry and comfortable carrying the ball forward, the Toffees could do a lot worse than splashing out for Byram. Look how well John Stones turned out when he arrived from Barnsley, after all.
Another young English defender thought to be under consideration is Arsenal’s Calum Chambers. The 20-year old has seen his career progress somewhat stall after the emergence of Hector Bellerin, as the former Southampton man looks to get back on track.
The Toffees defence has looked incredibly shaky at times and the addition of a gifted, young, versatile defender would be wise. Alongside Stones, Ramiro Funes Mori and Phil Jagielka, Chambers could form a dynamic pairing at the heart of the Everton defence.
Perhaps a move away from Arsenal can help the player get back to his best, which would be some prospect for Everton should they land him.
Having emerged as one of the brightest talents in Spanish football, Atletico Bilbao starlet Inaki Williams has been talked about as a potential target.
Should Everton follow up their reported interest in the Spanish under-21 international, it would be quiet the statement of intent.
Though his buyout clause is understood to be in the region of €20m, a hefty sum of money for a 21 year-old, Williams has the potential to go on to great things in the game.
Now the £28m for Lukaku is reaping the rewards, Williams might just be a gamble worth taking if Everton want to sustain their attempts to break into the top four for the first time in a decade.
If Stoke can sign Xherdan Shaqiri, Bournemouth sign Juan Iturbe and Crystal Palace land Yohan Cabaye, anything can happen.
Aiden McGeady and Kevin Mirallas have both been linked with move away from Merseyside this month, as they search for first team football ahead of Euro 2016.
Despite Arouna Kone forming a decent partnership with Lukaku, the wide forward department may be a little light should the frustrated duo be afforded the chance to leave.
Perhaps making a move for Real Madrid winger Denis Cheryshev, who has frustrations ahead of next summer’s showpiece in France of his own, could help balance the squad out while please all parties.
Lining the ex-Villarreal loan star up on the opposing flank to Deulofeu, either side of Ross Barkley is a potentially mouth-watering prospect.
Securing the Madridista, even on a six-month loan deal, would boost the attacking ranks at Goodison Park and give a speedy, direct option in contrast to the more technical Deulofeu on the right.